Getting Soot Stains Out of Rugs and Carpets

by Carolanne Strong
(last updated July 28, 2014)

As a first time home buyers, my husband and I didn't think twice about the coal burning stove lurking in the utility closet of our new house until we tried to use it the first time and smoked ourselves out of the house. We quickly replaced it with a cleaner natural gas furnace, but the years of coal dust collected in the vents still sifts out and stains our carpets from time to time. If you have a soot stain on your floor, you may be worried that it will be a permanent addition to your decor, but if you have a little bit of rubbing alcohol and dish soap at hand, you can rest easy knowing that soot smudge won't last long.

  • Sooner is better. It may sound obvious, but the longer you leave the soot on the floor, the more time those burned carbon particles have to imbed themselves in the fibers of your carpet, making them more difficult to clean out.
  • Pick up with a vacuum. Don't try to pick up candle trimmings or larger soot chunks with your fingers or with a paper towel. Those methods will only rub the cinders deeper into your carpet. Instead, use an upright or hand held vacuum. The suction power of these tools will lift the cinders out of the carpet instead of grinding them in, which will leave fewer remnants behind.
  • Use rubbing alcohol. Dab a washcloth with a spot of Isopropyl rubbing alcohol and rub it into the stain in a clockwise motion. Don't let the alcohol seep into the carpet, as it could damage the backing. Put several dry paper towels over the treated spot with something heavy to weigh the towels down and help absorb the moisture.
  • Use dish soap. If you still have a stain after the rubbing alcohol treatment, mix a few teaspoons of dish soap with a cup of warm water and blot the stain. Rinse the area thoroughly with clean water, as residual soap will attract dirt. Once again, soak up remaining moisture with paper towels and a weighted object.

As always, test an inconspicuous spot of carpet before you treat your stain to ensure color fastness. Keep in mind that following this steps should significantly lighten your soot stain, but it may be impossible to remove it completely without the help of a professional cleaner.

Author Bio

Carolanne Strong

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